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St. Louis at Miami

Venue: Marlins Park
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The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation has the best ERA in baseball, and it's about to get back the pitcher who had quite a bit to do with that for the first five weeks of the season.

Jake Westbrook makes his first start in more than a month Friday night as the NL Central leaders visit the Miami Marlins for the first of three.

Adam Wainwright lowered the St. Louis' starters ERA to 2.74 by throwing seven shutout innings in Thursday's 2-1 win at the New York Mets. Now, the Cardinals (43-23) are hoping Westbrook (2-1, 1.62 ERA) can seamlessly return to the rotation Friday after spending a month on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.

The right-hander had a 1.62 ERA through six starts prior to the injury, the best mark in the Cardinals' rotation and one of the best in the majors. Though his peripheral numbers aren't impressive - Westbrook struck out 19 and walked 18 in 39.0 innings - he didn't allow a homer and had a major league-best 76.5 percent ground-ball rate.

He gave up two runs over 10 2-3 innings, walking none and striking out 10, in two rehab starts for Double-A Springfield.

"I've always had elbow issues and I pitched through a lot of it," Westbrook told MLB.com. "I think I'm always going to have something, some sort of feeling in there that's not normal.

"I feel really good right now. I feel really good with the two starts I've had. I feel really encouraged about getting up and down seven times on Sunday, and hopefully it continues to feel that way throughout the year."

He and his teammates should feel quite comfortable on the road. The Cardinals, a major league-best 24-11 on the road, haven't lost a series outside St. Louis since dropping two of three to Arizona to open 2013.

Westbrook went 0-1 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts against Miami last season when St. Louis won five of seven matchups. The Cardinals took three of four in Miami.

After dropping two of three to Milwaukee, the Marlins (19-46) continue their six-game homestand with rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez (3-3, 3.17) on the mound.

The 20-year-old Cuban gave up one run or fewer for the fourth time in seven starts by throwing six innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 2-1, 20-inning win at the New York Mets.

"I've really been trying to make pitches, make good pitches and make them in a good location - that's how it's been," Fernandez told the Marlins' official website. "The catchers, they're calling the right pitches in the right moments, and it's been pretty good."

Fernandez has been outstanding in five home starts, going 1-0 with a 1.55 ERA.

Miami in batting .229 with a major league-worst 3.0 runs per game, but the club is hitting .266 and averaging 4.3 runs during a 6-5 stretch.

Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison could help the club continue its improvement at the plate. Stanton is 3 for 12 with a homer in three games since sitting out six weeks with a hamstring injury, while Morrison is 4 for 9 in three games following offseason right knee surgery.

Morrison likely will return to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's 10-1 loss.

Left fielder Juan Pierre extended his season-best hitting streak to nine in that game, but he's 1 for 17 off Westbrook.

David Freese should be back in the Cardinals' lineup after getting Thursday off. His career-best 20-game hitting streak, also the longest in the majors this season, ended Wednesday.

Freese is a .464 (13 for 28) career hitter off Marlins pitching.

St. Louis' Carlos Beltran, a career .333 hitter in Miami, will try to hit safely in his 13th consecutive game. He's batting .364 (20 for 55) with four homers and 13 RBIs during his run.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

Jake Westbrook, RHP
2013 stats
39.0 Innings Pitched 65.1
2-1 Wins-Losses 3-3
1.62 Earned Run Average 3.17
18 Walks 25
19 Strikeouts 67
100 Pitches Per Start 85
Career vs. opponent
40.0 Innings Pitched -
1-1 Wins-Losses ---
2.70 Earned Run Average -

Jose Fernandez, RHP
Weather
weather image  Mostly sunny. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
87°F78°F9mph/SW65%9%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
St. Louis1st NL Central114.733-8-2 W 3
Miami4th NL East611.35375-5 W 3
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jose Fernandez
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Beltran000000
Butler000000
Carpenter000000
Choate000000
Craig000000
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jake Westbrook
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Ruggiano32000.667
Polanco3111012.355
Olivo92002.222
Dobbs122001.167
Stanton122002.167
 

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Injuries
St. Louis
PlayerInjury
J. GarciaShoulder
R. GrichukBack
Y. MolinaKnee
T. PhamQuadriceps
Miami
PlayerInjury
H. AlvarezElbow
A. CrowElbow
J. FernandezElbow
D. KellyFinger
J. MathisFinger
C. YelichBack
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 24MIAMIA 3-2Morris Roark 
Apr 25MIA 4:10 PM EDT  
Apr 26MIA 1:10 PM EDT  
May 4WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
May 5WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
May 6WAS 1:05 PM EDT  
Jul 28MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 29MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 30MIA12:10 PM EDT  
Aug 28WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 29WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 30WAS 1:35 PM EDT  
Sep 11MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 12MIA 4:10 PM EDT  
Sep 13MIA 1:10 PM EDT  
Sep 17WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 18WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 19WAS 4:05 PM EDT  
Sep 20WAS 1:35 PM EDT